Written by Mike Verkaik
As I sat in the beauty of Groot Constantia vineyard I soon became overwhelmed with the visual picture of Jesus’s words that were before me. My view of choice was a hillside patch of vines that overlooked much of the entire vineyard. As I looked at row after row of pruned vines, my focus slowly went to the single vine located five feet in front of me.
The words I read the day before from True Vine, by Andrew Murray were still echoing in my mind. “The believer has but one reason for being a branch – but one reason for their existence on earth – that the heavenly Vine may through them bring forth His fruit. Happy the soul that knows this, that has consented to it, and that says, I have been redeemed for one thing.”
With the resurrected understanding of my calling as a branch, I saw myself on that hillside as a cutback, seemingly lifeless branch. I was solely connected to the larger vine that contained all the life giving sap that I needed. In that instance the beautiful scenery surrounding me changed into His holy ground as I began to read John 15.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (vs. 5)
While continuing to read the verses, tears began to flood my eyes, and I was not sure why. So I began to write in my journal and pray. “Abba, why am I crying? Is it the duplication of the moment you had with your disciples and the awe of your presence and closeness in this moment? Is it the sad conviction and realization that I don’t remain in You as much as I should, nor do I love the way you call me to love? Maybe it’s the understanding Jesus, that You aren’t going anywhere and your promise to remain in me is constant, despite my failure in reciprocating that commitment? Or is it the overwhelming realization once again that You have actually chosen me and appointed me so that I might go and bear fruit?”
Focusing again on the pruned vine in front of me the Holy Spirit began to reveal the pruning He was doing and that I needed in my life. Shortcomings, prideful tendencies and self-centeredness continued to be revealed as I wrote the list of items that had crept back into my life. A reminder of the constant journey we are on to just be the branch and to live our life in total dependence on the sap we get from the Vine, and loving care of the gardener.
When my time in front of the vine ended I packed my bag and looked up to head down the path. The rainbow picture I saw brought to life the words of John 15:9
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
What a gift the team was given to spend time in a vineyard, and see the visual of the vine and what it means to be a branch. The time spent reading, writing and dwelling was a healthy cleansing of the heart and soul, and a new revelation of His desires for relationship with us.
Moving forward into this week may we choose to dwell in His spiritual vineyard, and give him our time, our listening ear and our eyes fixed upon Him.
As we live into being His branch, He will be faithful, and through the power of the Holy Spirit reveal to us the true meaning of remaining in Him.